What’s so impressive about Nonthaburi? And where is it anyway? Read on my friends and find out more about the unexpected delights of this little known province right next to Bangkok.
You can find some fascinating things to do in Nonthaburi town and the area around Nonthaburi pier in our Taste of Nonthaburi article.
Pearls of Pakkred
Pakkred district sits next to the Chao Phraya river just upstream of Nonthaburi town.
It can be reached from Bangkok by Chao Phraya express boat in the morning and late afternoon, or at any time by going to Nonthaburi pier and then taking a bus, passenger van, or taxi.
Well known to locals and some Bangkokians, Koh Kred is a unique island in the middle of the Chao Phraya River, which is home to some ancient Mon temples, and a Mon community famous for their pottery.
There are no cars on the island and you can rent a bicycle or stroll along the several kilometers of walkways that circle and cross the island – but watch out for the ever present motorcycles!
Koh Kret was formed in 1722. It was created when a canal was built to cut through a bend in the Chao Phraya river, making a shorter route to Bangkok.
The new island shortened the distance to the capital by over 4 kilometres.
So what’s special about this island? Well it’s picturesque, reveals a local laid back lifestyle which hasn’t changed much for years, there’s an interesting market, ancient temples, locally hand made pottery (which is in big demand across Thailand), and last but most refreshingly, a micro brewery.
Getting there: In Pakkred, look for Sukprachasan 3 Road next to Tesco-Lotus (under the river overpass) and head to the end where you’ll find Wat Sanam Neua. There is a cross-river ferry (5am to 9pm) on the riverside of the temple that crosses to the island. You pay the fare on arrival.
While Koh Kred is no longer a hidden gem it’s still worth a visit. On weekends and public holidays it can get very crowded. On ordinary working days there are a lot less people around, but not everything will be open.
Sukprachasan 2 Road
Known locally to everyone as ‘Soi Wat Ku’, this narrow road leads to some very unexpected delights in the depths of residential Pakkred.
Wat Ku (pronounced ‘Wat Goo’) is the first place to visit here – l guess that’s obvious from the road’s nickname.
Its about 3-4km along the road and you can either take the regular songtaew (a truck with two rows of seats in the back) from Pakkred market under the river bridge, or a motorcycle taxi from the mouth of the soi.
(This video is in Thai but it gives you a good look at the temple compound)
You’ll recognise it by the white walls and aluminium fences. Wat Ku goes back to 1752 and was originally built by the Mon people.
Right at the front of the complex is one of the original early Ayuddhya period ubosots, the older one next to it collapsed after two major floods hit the temple.
Opposite on the left, you can’t miss the 33 meter long reclining Buddha, one of the largest in the region, and behind it the remains of a Royal Barge.
King Rama V’s Queen Sunandha and her children drowned when it sank in the river near Wat Ku, while on the way to the Royal Palace at Bang Pa-in.
Locals make offerings and rub the remains of the boat asking for luck in love, work, and of course the lottery.
At the back of the complex, on the approach to the river, is a modern but beautiful shrine to the late Queen, after the original shrine was also destroyed by floods.
The area near the shrine is reputed to be haunted by the spirit of Queen Sunandha as she mourns for her children.
Wat Ku is well worth spending an hour or so to explore the many exotic temple buildings and historical artifacts, including the unusual design of their crematorium.
Leaving Wat Ku and moving further along this busy but narrow road, you’ll see a sign on the left pointing to ‘Suan Thip‘.
This is an unlikely area to find a Michelin listed restaurant but that’s exactly what Suan Thip is.
Set in some pretty gardens on the edge of the Chao Phraya River, you can have a meal in the garden surrounded by nature, or enjoy your food in their elegant air conditioned pavilion.
Within sight of Suan Thip is the unusual Buddy’s Oriental Riverside Hotel, built in the colonial style and a traditional riverside fortress.
It’s a good spot to base yourself to explore the local area, and it’s not too far from Muang Thong Thani if you happen to be going to an event there.
The tucked away Wat Chalor (also Wat Chalo) in Bang Kruai district is well worth a taxi ride from either Nonthaburi town or Pakkred town.
You could hire a long tailed boat at Nonthaburi pier and head along Klong Bangkok Noi as the temple is beside this interesting canal.
It’s unusual design is striking. The main building is shaped like a traditional Royal “Hong” (Swan boat) with a chapel resting on it.
The temple precincts are fairly small and the Swan’s head towers over the surrounding shops, visible from the road.
There are remains of religious buildings here from the Sukhothai and Ayuddyha periods of Thai history.
Wat Chalo is on Bang Kruai-Sai Noi Road in Bang Kruai district, Nonthaburi.
Wat Sangkhathan was built during the late Ayuddhaya period in an unusual Ceylonese style.
The most notable sights are the attractive glass-walled Ubosots (temple halls), and the boat-shaped monks’ residences, set in tranquil and natural surroundings.
On a sunny day the glass reflects the sunlight and can be seen from quite a distance.
This temple has a popular meditation program too.
Getting there: From Rattanathibet Road in Nonthaburi cross Rama V Bridge. Keep left and there will be a direction sign pointing to Wat Sangkhatan. Follow the sign for about 2 kilometers.
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